Tag: Smetana

This week in tiny satisfactions

Memory of music can be such a weird thing. I was listening to one of Beethoven’s string quartets the other day (number 10, Op. 74) and in the second movement there is a shift from one chord to another that reminded me of a different little snippet of music, but all I could get at of what it reminded me of was that it was 1. from an opera and 2. about sadness and irreparable loss of something beautiful. The bit of Beethoven wasn’t sad and didn’t evoke a sense of loss, but this was definitely the emotional content of whatever it was it reminded me of. I sat there and cycled through possibilities – the emotional vibe was wrong for Mozart or Handel; it was something from the 19th century, but it wasn’t Verdi. Eventually I figured it out. It was a bit of Smetana’s The Bartered Bride, most likely Marie’s “O welch ein Schmerz!” aria.

Now, if I only knew enough music theory to indicate what the chord/s were!

O welch ein Schmerz!

This is more apples to kumquats than apples and apples, as far as comparisons go, but I thought I would try it just to see if it worked. (Please note that I do not have a position on apples versus kumquats. They are both very lovely fruits.)

So, this is “O welch ein Schmerz!” / “Oh, leave me be!” from Act III. The first version is Stratas singing it in English at the Met in 1978 and the second is Röschmann singing it in German in Graz in 2011.

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Smetana / The Bartered Bride / Metropolitan Opera, 1978

This wasn’t what I expected to be writing about today either.

However, there is a reason. I wanted to hear an old version of this opera before I listened to the latest one because I find that I notice more about any specific performance of a piece of music if I have some point of comparison. In addition, this DVD is part of a box set most of which I have been avoiding for months because it’s a box set of Met productions from the 1970s and 80s and a person can take only so much of that kind of thing at once. The DVD I actually want to watch is a good excuse for knocking this one off the stack. Also, I haven’t finished my grading yet.

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Something to look forward to

I haven’t watched the actual opera yet because I’m saving it as an incentive to finish my grading this week. But here’s the rehearsal documentary:

If you 1) are interested in this DVD for the same reason I am and 2) are short on time, I suggest beginning at about 4.05. No interview (Röschmann seems not to do those very often) but there is singing, and it’s great.